Men in the labour market were able to narrow the gap with women as male-dominated industries such as transportation rallied to employ 10,000 more male job-seekers between May 2018 and May 2019. By contrast sales jobs — which employ more women than men — contracted, displacing 9,000 women over the same period.
The number of employed people in Finland was 32,000 higher in May this year than at the same time last year, according to Statistics Finland's latest Labour Force Survey.
The survey reported the number of unemployed persons in Finland as 249,000, some 12,000 fewer than a year ago.
In May 2019, the employment rate among persons aged 15 to 64 was 73.1 percent, which was 0.8 percentage points higher than in May the year before. The unemployment rate was 8.8 percent, half a percentage point lower than the previous year.
The number of employed people in May was reported at around 2.6 million.
Statistics also revealed that the number of employed men increased in May 2019. The data registered 133,000 unemployed men and 116,000 women — about 29,000 more employed men and 2,000 more employed women than in May 2018.
Male-dominated industries performed better
The employment rate of men aged 15 to 64 rose by 1.4 percentage points to 74.3 percent while that of women edged up 0.2 percentage points to 71.8 percent.
This could be due to changes in industry trends, according to Petri Syvänen, adviser with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
"In almost every industry, we can see little changes towards a better direction. However, the biggest change has been in the transportation industry where the number of men employed has increased by 10,000 since last May, making it one of the most important figures contributing to the increase in employed men," Syvänen said.
Syvänen attributes these changes to economic growth in certain sectors.
"While it is difficult to give an exact reason for the increase in the employed, it can be said that when the activity in the economy is at a higher level, the employment rates of industries such as transport goes up," Syvänen told Yle News.
Little impact from activation model
The previous government's 'activation model' could have only had a small impact on these numbers, according to Syvänen.
"As a whole, the activation model could have had a little impact on the better employment figures, but it is difficult to say how much. Last year, Statistics Finland had studied the impact of the activation model on the employment figures and they found almost nothing. Even if it had a little impact, in the big picture, the effect is very small," Syvänen said.
However, the data show that employment among women has not risen significantly since last year.
"The number employed in sales has decreased by 9,000 since May last year. These small changes across all industries for women has led to these numbers," Syvänen added.
However, men still trail women slightly when it comes to the unemployment rate. Between May last year and this year the unemployment rate among men nudged down by a tenth of a percentage point to nine percent, and that of women by 0.9 percentage points to 8.5 percent.
At 8.8 percent, the overall unemployment rate in May was half a percentage point lower than a year earlier.